Just after you leave the carpark you cross Dry River. From here, the marked route continues up the valley for 30 minutes and turns sharply right. It then climbs steeply for a further 30 minutes, zigzagging up to the cave entrance.
There is a viewing platform just inside the cave entrance, with site interpretation. Keep to the platform structure and marked track, to prevent any further damage to this fragile ecology.
Be aware of falling rocks and slippery surfaces, and do not linger at the cave entrance.
Features of the cave
Rawhiti Cave has possibly the most diverse and extensive entrance and twilight‑zone flora of any cave in New Zealand.
This flora influences the growth of biokarst – where plants, moss or algae become covered with calcite as they grow towards the light. That’s why the formations don't behave according to gravity and the stalactites on the cave ceiling grow outwards towards the sunlight (a phenomenon known as phytokarst). It's also why the large outcrop has those amazing colours of pinks and greens.
Phytokarst features include large numbers of stalactites as well as a series of large, old stalagmites which are growing towards the entrance of the cave.
Some of the most significant phytokarst features occur on the entrance slopes and cave floor, where they are usually overlooked and trampled by visitors.
From Takaka, drive east towards Pohara Beach. At Motupipi turn right into Glenview Road and then left into Packard Road.
Rawhiti Cave is signposted from near the end of Packard Road through private property to an informal carpark. Leave the gates as you find them.
It takes approximately 15 minutes to drive from Takaka to the carpark.
Know before you go
The last section of the track is steep and narrow: reasonable fitness and tramping experience are required for this section.
After heavy rain, Dry River is prone to flooding: do not attempt to cross in these conditions.